- Title: Protests force week-long shutdown at South African universities
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (OCTOBER 04, 2016) (REUTERS) STUDENTS RUNNING AWAY FROM POLICE POLICE FIRING STUN GRENADES POLICE ROUGH UP FEES MUST FALL LEADER, MCEBO DLAMINI
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 16:48
- Keywords: Education Protests South Africa Universities Fees Must Fall Violence
- Location: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
- City: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00152QAZIV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Clashes between police and students forced South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, known as Wits, to suspend classes for the second time in less than a month, as unrest mounted again over education costs.
Police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protesters marching and dancing through the Johannesburg campus on Tuesday (October 4), demanding free education.
A spokeswoman from Wits released a statement late on Tuesday (October 04) evening, stating that the university will remain closed until Monday, October 10.
On Wednesday (October 05), tension remained high at Wits during a silent protest by the #OpenWits supporters, who want classes to resume and supporters of the fees must fall group, who want universities to remain closed until university education is made free in the country.
The two groups engaged in heated arguments during the protest.
"Most of us, the who are people here... you see there's this narrative in the media to say that it's white people who are here. I can assure you there's many black people at home who are afraid to come here, you know why - they are afraid of such things because now the media and the rhetoric says you are a sell out - they say you have abandoned the black cause, which is not true," added an #OpenWits supporter, Zakhele Xaba.
"We fully expected something like this to happen but what I feel it's just a short fall from our part for not explaining fully that we are not anti fees must fall - we are not anti the movement at all. We just want classes to resume as soon as possible, that's all we want," said an unidentified #OpenWits supporter.
Demonstrations over the cost of university education, which is prohibitive for many black students, have highlighted frustration at enduring inequalities more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
Wits, which has been the epicentre of the protests, conducted a poll last week asking students if they wanted go back to class.
Some 77 percent of the 21,730 students who voted supported the resumption of lessons but clashes between students over whether classes should resume continue.
"No amount of provocation will stop us, police have failed, there's no amount of white people will come and try to derail the revolution," said an unidentified supporter of supporter of the fees must fall movement.
Protests first erupted last year, then eased off as the government froze fee increases and set up a commission to look into the education funding system.
The unrest boiled over again, closing some classes and universities, when the commission said on Sept. 19 that fees would continue to rise, albeit with an 8-percent cap in 2017.
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